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Checked their light footsteps -- statue-like they stood,
As worshipped forms, the Genii of the Wood !
At length the spell dissolves! The warrior's lance
Rings on the tortoise with wild dissonance !
And see, the regal plumes, the couch of state ! 5
Still, where it moves, the wise in council wait!
See now borne forth the monstrous mask of gold,
And ebon chair of many a serpent-fold ;
These now exchanged for gifts that thrice surpass
The wondrous ring, and lamp, and horse of brass.
What long-drawn tube transports the gazer home,
Kindling with stars at noon the ethereal dome?
'Tis here: and here circles of solid light
Charm with another self the cheated sight;
As man to man another self disclose,
That now with terror starts, with triumph glows !
CANTO X. Cora — Luxuriant Vegetation — The Humming-bird — The Fountain of
* THEN Cora came, the youngest of her race, And in her hands she hid her lovely face; Yet oft by stealth a timid glance she cast, And now with playful step the mirror passed, Each bright reflection brighter than the last ! And oft behind it flew, and oft before ; The more she searched, pleased and perplexed the more ! And looked and laughed, and blushed with quick surprise ; Her lips all mirth, all ecstasy her eyes !
But soon the telescope attracts her view;
And, lo! her lover in his light canoe
Rocking, at noontide, on the silent sea,
Before her lies! It cannot, cannot be.
Late as he left the shore, she lingered there,
Till, less and less, he melted into air !
Sigh after sigh steals from her gentle frame,
And say — that murmur was it not his name?
She turns, and thinks; and, lost in wild amaze,
Gazes again, and could forever gaze !
Nor can thy flute, Alonso, now excite
As in VALENCIA, when, with fond delight,
FRANCISCA, waking, to the lattice flew,
So soon to love and to be wretched too!
Hers through a convent-grate to send her last adieu.
- Yet who now comes uncalled ; and round and round,
And near and nearer flutters to the sound;
Then stirs not, breathes not — on enchanted ground ?
Who now lets fall the flowers she culled to wear
When he, who promised, should at eve be there;
And faintly smiles, and hangs her head aside
The tear that glistens on her cheek to hide ?
Ah, who but CORA? — till, inspired, possessed,
At once she springs, and clasps it to her breast!
Soon from the bay the mingling crowd ascends, Kindred first met! by sacred instinct Friends! Through citron-groves, and fields of yellow maize, Through plantain-walks where not a sunbeam plays. Here blue savannas fade into the sky, There forests frown in midnight majesty; Ceiba,” and Indian fig, and plane sublime, Nature's first-born, and reverenced by Time !
There sits the bird that speaks ! 3 there, quivering, rise
Wings that reflect the glow of evening-skies !
Half bird, half fly,* the fairy king of flowers :
Reigns there, and revels through the fragrant hours;
Gem full of life, and joy and song divine,
Soon in the virgin's graceful ear to shine.?
'T was he that sung, if ancient Fame speaks truth, " Come! follow, follow to the Fount of Youth ! I quaff the ambrosial mists that round it rise, Dissolved and lost in dreams of Paradise !" For there called forth, to bless a happier hour, It met the sun in many a rainbow-shower! Murmuring delight, its living waters rolled 'Mid branching palms and amaranths of gold ! 8
Evening — A Banquet - The Ghost of Cazziva. THE tamarind closed her leaves; the marmoset Dreamed on his bough, and played the mimic yet. Fresh from the lake the breeze of twilight blew, And vast and deep the mountain-shadows grew; When many a fire-fly, shooting through the glade, Spangled the locks of many a lovely maid, Who now danced forth to strew our path with flowers, And hymn our welcome to celestial bowers.
There odorous lamps adorned the festal rite, And guavas blushed as in the vales of light." ? There silent sate many an unbidden guest, Whose steadfast looks a secret dread impressed ;
Not there forgot the sacred fruit that fed
At nightly feasts the spirits of the dead,
Mingling in scenes that mirth to mortals give,
But by their sadness known from those that live.
There met, as erst, within the wonted grove,
Unmarried girls and youths that died for love!
Sons now beheld their ancient sires again;
And sires, alas! their sons in battle-slain ! *
But whence that sigh? T was from a heart that broke !
And whence that voice? As from the grave it spoke !
And who, as unresolved the feast to share,
Sits half-withdrawn in faded splendor there?
*T is he of yore, the warrior and the sage,
Whose lips have moved in prayer from age to age :
Whose eyes, that wandered as in search before,
Now on COLUMBUS fixed — to search no more!
Cazziva, gifted in his day to know
The gathering signs of a long night of woe;
Gifted by those who give but to enslave;
No rest in death! no refuge in the grave !
– With sudden spring as at the shout of war,
He flies! and, turning in his flight, from far
Glares through the gloom like some portentous star!
Unseen, unheard ! Hence, minister of ill! 6
Hence, 't is not yet the hour! though come it will!
They that foretold — too soon shall they fulfil;?
When forth they rush as with the torrent's sweep,
And deeds are done that make the angels weep!
Hark, o'er the busy mead the shell proclaims Triumphs, and masques, and high heroic games. And now the old sit round; and now the young Climb the green boughs, the murmuring doves among
Who claims the prize, when wingéd feet contend;
When twanging bows the flaming arrows send ? 10
Who stands self-centred in the field of fame,
And, grappling, flings to earth a giant's frame?
Whilst all, with anxious hearts and eager eyes,
Bend as he bends, and, as he rises, rise !
And Cora's self, in pride of beauty here,
Trembles with grief and joy, and hope and fear!
(She who, the fairest, ever flew the first,
With cup of balm to quench his burning thirst;
Knelt at his head, her fan-leaf in her hand,
And hummed the air that pleased him, while she fanned)
How blest his lot! -though, by the Muse unsung,
His name shall perish, when his knell is rung.
That night, transported, with a sigh I said
" 'Tis all a dream!" -- Now, like a dream, 't is fled ;
And many and many a year has passed away,
And I alone remain to watch and pray !
Yet oft in darkness, on my bed of straw,
Oft I awake and think on what I saw !
The groves, the birds, the youths, the nymphs recall,
And CORA, loveliest, sweetest of them all!
STILL would I speak of him, before I went,
Who among us a life of sorrow spent,
And, dying, left a world his monument;